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Need advice on protea seedlings

Posted by audrey z5 PA (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 23, 11 at 10:16

I planted some protea lepidocarpodron seeds this spring and--somewhat to my surprise--all eight of them sprouted. (I had them in our cold room until they came up, then put them out on the porch to help keep them cool.) They have been a little slow in getting out of their seed cases, but a couple are out now, and it looks as if the rest will make it.

I've read that, because proteas don't like their roots disturbed, they should be transplanted right away. Does that mean as soon as they are up, or after they've developed additional leaves? Also, will they do okay in pots that are brought indoors over the winter--as they definitely aren't hardy here in zone 5?

As I've never grown these before, any additional advice you can give me would be appreciated. I did read somewhere that they shouldn't receive any chemical fertilizer.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need advice on protea seedlings

I'd be inclined to leave them where they are until they are young adults. If you try to move them now you risk killing them. When they are larger you can then just "drop the pot on" into a larger one without disturbing the roots. Don't forget to give them some wood ash and charcoal. Protea seed always germinates after bush fires in SA. Yes, you will have to protect them from frost, though they will survive low temps if kept very dry. Make sure they still get plenty of sun through the winter months and barely any water. - Ian.

RE: Need advice on protea seedlings

Many thanks for your advice! I didn't actually see it until today, as my computer has a bad habit of sending GardenWeb e-mails directly into the junk file. I recently dug out and gave away a couple of the protea seedlings, so I'll have to see how they do after transplanting for those other people.

I doubt the seedlings could all have stayed in the pot anyway, since it isn't actually a pot, but a rectangular plastic seed-sowing container--about 5 X 3 inches. The remaining seedlings are in cactus soil and seem to be doing well for the moment. But I'll look for some wood ashes to add.

I can probably keep them in a cool window with my cacti during the winter, as I only water the cacti about once a week then. Thanks again.

RE: Need advice on protea seedlings

I didn't know about the wood ashes but I do have charcoal in the potting mix. Granted it's only been about a week but the little protea seedling that Audrey sent looks healthy. If it makes it to the winter it should do ok in the greenhouse which I keep fairly cool. Not sure where to get any wood ashes. Maybe I'll make a little fire. I certainly cleaned up enough broken branches from the storms we had last winter.

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